RED BUD — A federal judge slapped a prison sentence of almost three years on a pharmacist on Tuesday for submitting more than $630,000 in fraudulent prescription drug claims after noting that he had shown little repentance for his crime.
Steven P. Gibson, 30, was the owner of Gibson’s Discount Drugs when he submitted more than 1,000 fake prescriptions to insurers, including Medicaid and Medicare, prosecutors said. He submitted the fake prescriptions in the names of family members and customers, they said.
The prescriptions were not authorized and were not dispensed, they said. They were created only to make money.
Gibson pleaded guilty in August in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis to engaging in a scheme to defraud the insurance companies.
He started submitting the fake claims about two months after he bought the pharmacy in October 2016, prosecutors said. He submitted nearly 1,000 fake claims by February 2018.
Investigators were tipped off to the fraud in late 2017 by a pharmacist at the store. The pharmacist had answered a phone call from a customer who saw that her son had been billed for expensive medications he never received, prosecutors said.
Gibson often chose the most expensive drugs in order to make the most money, prosecutors said.
As a part of his guilty plea in August, Gibson was ordered to pay $620,000 in restitution. He had paid only $30,000 by his sentencing Tuesday.
Gibson had made statements expressing remorse for his crimes, but U.S. District Court Judge Staci Yandle noted his failure to repay more money by the time of his sentencing.
“Talk is cheap,” Yandle told Gibson, according to a news release. “The remorseful or repentant criminal would want to do everything possible to rectify the harmful consequences of his crime, and so if he still has any of the loot he will return it.”
On the day Gibson pleaded guilty in August, his wife also wrote a post on the pharmacy’s public Facebook account that tried to downplay his crimes, prosecutors said.
“Everything that was wrote about us receiving 630,000 or whatever the number that was put out there, is laughable to me and completely false,” prosecutors said she wrote in the post, which has been taken down. “I SEE our bank accounts, I KNOW. Everything that was wrote about him running claims and collecting money on multiple people that is a complete LIE. I know all the details of the investigation.”
Gibson’s attorney argued that Gibson did not know about the Facebook post and did not condone it, prosecutors said.
Yandle brushed aside that argument and said the post was further indication that Gibson had not adequately accepted responsibility for his crimes. She said “white collar crimes” such as insurance fraud were serious.
“Some people minimize these kinds of crime,” Yandle said. “This court does not.”
Gibson was sentenced to 33 months in prison and two years of supervised release. He was not ordered to pay a fine at his sentencing because of the amount he still owes in restitution.
The website for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation indicates that Gibson’s pharmacist license is current and he has no listed discipline.